Barton Goldsmith Tribune News Service
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Psychotherapist Dr. Barton Goldsmith shares his best advice on how to create a loving and safe holiday season this year.
This is a special time of year for almost everybody. We need to take in the spirit and joy of the season, despite how different this one is going to be. In that light, here are some suggestions for getting the most out of this holiday season while staying safe and healthy.
1. All the research is showing that even small gatherings are just not a good idea. It’s how most people get the virus, so let’s avoid that by cooperating with the guidance we have gotten from the CDC and keep our celebrations to household members only. Yes, this is a disappointment, but it may guarantee that you will have many other holidays to spend with your loved ones.
2. Instead of going out for holiday meals, make something together at home. As always, when four hands and two hearts are making a meal, it is not just food for the body but food for the soul.
3. Decorate early and leave everything up longer. As the song says, “We need a little Christmas,” and these days, we need it more than ever. I’ll be in less of a rush to get back to normal, simply because nothing is normal at the moment. That knowledge makes it easier to extend the holidays a little longer and feel the joy as much as possible.
4. Make your home as comfortable as you can. Look, you’re going to be there more than usual, so instead of buying a new fishing pole or a tennis bracelet, why not get something for your home and home life? In my household, appliances never used to count as gifts, that is, until my wife got a robot mop and vacuum. (I gave it to her as a side gift, and it turned out to be her favorite. She even named it!) So think about what will make you happier in your home and buy each other that.
5. When I was a kid, we used to drive to Candy Cane Lane, a neighborhood of several blocks that goes hog wild when it comes to holiday lights. Each street has a theme like Silver Bell Lane, Reindeer Lane, and so on, and it’s still happening. So, we will sit in the bumper-to-bumper traffic going 2 miles per hour, with our lights off, the heated seats on, and enjoy the sights and sounds. I have always loved it, and this will be another memorable evening for both of us.
6. This season is about giving. Many of us are lucky to have everything we need, but many people do not — especially this year. It isn’t wise to expose ourselves to strangers during a pandemic, but there are other ways to help. Donating to a local homeless shelter is a good place to start, and it doesn’t have to be money or anything much. Your old shoes and socks could make a big difference in someone’s life who is going through the winter wearing cardboard on their feet.
7. Put politics away for the holiday. You can bring them out again when you pack up the decorations. I am not going to pay too much attention to the news, because it’s always upsetting, and I want as little negativity as possible. Even if something important is going on, you don’t have to listen to it around the clock. You may also want to consider turning off notifications on your phone for the day.
8. Give the first responders in your life a little something. The mailperson and anyone who makes deliveries deserve some extra kindness these days, as do all of those who are helping us live our lives as close to normal as possible.
Enjoying the December holidays despite the pandemic will be a bit of a challenge, but perhaps you will create some new traditions as you enjoy some old ones. Have your computer ready for Zoom calls, and reach out to the people you love. Hopefully, we can all be together next year.
(Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, Calif., is the author of "The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time.")
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